Madonna’s makeup magician
For Gina Brooke, the magic of a Madonna concert isn’t when the pop star is strutting on stage with a full set of backup singers and dancers, but when she drops out of sight.
That’s because Brooke, the diva’s makeup artist, is waiting along with a hairstylist and two wardrobe assistants to touch up Madonna’s face and hair, and help her change into a new costume. The routine takes 90 seconds, tops.
“That’s the most exciting part of the show – below the stage,” Brooke says of four quick-change segments during each stop on the “Sticky & Sweet” tour. Madonna performs tonight and Wednesday at the Pepsi Center.
“If she doesn’t get her boot on straight, I can’t powder her properly, or she’ll go on late and it can be a big issue,” Brooke says. The support crew also gets a private show by Madonna during the changes. “She’s really funny and witty.”
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Brooke and Madonna’s hairstylist spend between 45 minutes and an hour prepping the pop star before each performance, and that ritual, too, is carefully orchestrated. “The look of the show is quintessentially Madonna,” says the artist. “When I’m doing someone’s makeup, I always look at their face and take what I think is their best attribute and enhance it. Madonna’s eyes and skin are her most beautiful features.”
The process starts long before the first sound check. “We go in three weeks before the tour starts and look at the costumes she’ll be wearing,” Brooke says. From that, the makeup artist will come up with some ideas about how the makeup will complement the costumes. “(Madonna) knows what she wants; ultimately it is a collaboration,” Brooke says.
When she’s not doing celebrity makeup for shows or photo shoots, Brooke travels to stores on behalf of Shu Uemura, the makeup company. The classes the makeup artist teaches, like the one she’ll lead at Neiman Marcus today, start with a talk about the importance of skin care. “Beautiful makeup begins with beautiful skin,” she says. “If you don’t prime a wall properly, the paint doesn’t go on smoothly and the same is true for your skin.”
At good makeup counters, employees have been trained to find the right cosmetics for a woman’s skin, hair and eye colors, she says, and customers are shown how to properly apply it. It’s shouldn’t be a slapdash affair where you are sold whatever eye or lip color is in season and sent on your way.
That said, there are two strong trends right now that women can use to update their look. The one that Madonna’s wearing — metallic eye shadow — can be used for both day and evening, Brooke says. The other is to experiment with bold lips in shades of pink, red or brown.
“I don’t believe there are rules to makeup,” Brooke says. “People should apply makeup according to what looks good on them.”